baby angles (not angels)


This week Ashley and Sarah's tutorial Tuesday is about angles. Shooting from different angles, that is. It's something I've been trying to practice more, because it's not something that comes naturally to me. I've found that shooting at angles takes more creativity and work than just taking a picture straight on. 

On Sunday I got the chance to hang out with a friend of mine and her two beautiful children. I'm glad I brought my camera with me so I could get more practice with moving subjects and different angles. 

Tutorial Tuesday

The Oklahoma Aquarium (where I show you cool fish photos)


As I mentioned in this post, this past weekend, Jordan and I went on a trip to celebrate our one-year anniversary. We're flying to Chicago next month for a wedding, so we decided just to take a short drive north to Jenks, Oklahoma, and visit the Oklahoma aquarium. 

All the little kids were freaking out about Nemo. And why not? He's so cute! 
(Plus, umm, how good am I at taking pictures of fish? Very good, you say? Indeed.)

The Oklahoma aquarium has the largest collection of bull sharks in the country.

We got to touch some baby sharks and stingrays. To be honest, I was uncharacteristically afraid to stick my hand in the pool. But I was surrounded by five-year-olds who seemed to have no trouble with it, and I didn't want to be lame and show fear.

So I did (and made Jordan do it too), and for the record, stingrays are extremely slimy.
And the sharks were rubbery, not prickly like I had previously thought.
There was this one stingray who liked all the attention and kept rising up out of the water and slashing everyone. 

When we left, I made Jordan take a picture outside the sign. 
He's always (read: most of the time) such a trooper.

[This is a repeat picture from THIS post. Read it. I've heard it's pretty funny.]
Later we had ice cream and walked along the riverfront.

Then we went back to our hotel and stayed up late to watch the Thunder kick some LA butt. We also talked and decided that we are definitely getting better at traveling together. One thing I learned the hard way on our honeymoon was that I need to make sure he eats before we start driving or else he gets really cranky. 

All in all, it was a fun anniversary weekend. 
And so begins year two. 

What is it with boys and pictures? [Part 2]


{From our engagement picture session last year. Taken by our friend Vince Conn.}
When my brother came into town for a visit, I wrote this post about how boys obviously have a problem taking good pictures. (By "good" I just mean a nice, normal pose.) 
Well, this past weekend Jordan and I went on a little anniversary trip, and the issue resurfaced.

One of the most annoying things about being somewhere with only one other person is the lack of opportunity to take a picture that includes both of you. (This is, of course, only annoying if you're like me and carry your camera with you everywhere.) 
In order to take said picture, you're limited to 3 options:
  1. Ask a stranger to take your picture.
  2. Hold your arm out and take your own picture.
  3. Use your camera timer. 
Each of these comes with its own list of concerns: 

Option #1: Ask a stranger to take your picture.
List of concerns: Am I the only one who is secretly afraid the stranger is going to take off with my camera? I'm not even kidding. It crosses my mind every single time, and now that I have a "fancy" camera, I'm even more concerned. The other problem is that 90% of strangers don't know how to take a decent picture. Why is this? I admit that I'm a picture snob most of the time, but seriously. 

Dear strangers, 
All I want is a centered photo that isn't chopping off our heads and doesn't have your finger in the corner from accidentally covering the lens. 
I don't feel like this is too much to ask. Oh, and yes, you can zoom in sometimes. I don't want a photo that's mostly sidewalk from half a mile away. 
Thank you.

Option #2: Hold your arm out and take your own picture.
List of concerns: The cheesy let's-take-our-own-picture thing has already gotten old. Furthermore, this option eliminates any chance of having enough background in the photo to even tell where you are, and every picture looks the same. It's like I have fifty photos of us where it looks like all we did was change shirts. Added to that is the fact that most of the time someone's face gets chopped off or an unsuspecting stranger gets included into the photo on accident (see "what is it with boys and pictures?" part one).

Option #3: Use your camera timer.
List of concerns: Let's be honest. This usually either fails completely or takes no less than five tries, during which time Jordan gets sick of posing and starts complaining. There's also the issue of finding a good spot to place the camera so a) everything is centered and b) your camera won't fall and break into a million tiny pieces.

And so, this trip I added my own creation--Option #4: have each person take a picture of the other person. 

Obviously this is not ideal, but sometimes it's the best you can do. Here's an example of this method in use from our trip to the Oklahoma aquarium this past weekend:

Another reason Option #4 works (at least for us) is the fact that Jordan gets horribly embarrassed by me all the time. Me asking a stranger to take our picture is in the top 5 on his list of "Things Amanda Does to Embarrass Jordan." This way, we don't have to involve strangers in our picture taking. 

But I digress. 

After the aquarium (which will be a post of itself because the pictures are cool), we ate dinner then got ice cream and sat outside on a bench to eat it. At this point, I pulled out my camera for my second attempt at newly created Option #4 (ie. take pictures of each other).

The first shot of me looked like this: 

Not great, I'll admit. 

This is the perfect example of why you need to be conscious of your chin height. Lower your chin. I tell people this all the time, and that's why they make fun of me for being too serious during picture taking.

But, again, I digress. 
This was shot number two:

This one is better. I clearly have the chin problem corrected. But in my opinion I've got too much of a I-am-posing-for-this-picture look, which I didn't like. The smile's obviously fake. Also, okay, not a deal breaker, but this angle is not catering to my good side.

Enter photo number three. The big winner.

If I may, this one's not bad at all. Chin down, cheesy posing smile averted. good side!
NOTE: it took me three tries to get a "good" one. Three. 
And even my first two could have passed as a decent shot.

Then it was Jordan's turn, and again I had to ask, 
What is it with boys and pictures? 
I mean come on. This is what I am dealing with:



Even more suspicious???

Creepster stare.

Okay, this one just plain weirds me out. How is he doing that with his eyes?

I finally got this out of him: 

**Please don't forget to note the mutton chops and soul patch. 
And he thinks he's the only one who gets embarrassed?**

To sum up, I'm still debating about whether or not Option #4 is a viable alternative to this two-person-picture-taking dilemma. I've realized that it might just be faster to take my chances with strangers. 

Dear one-year-old wedding cake,


Dear all grocery stores within a 15-mile radius of my apartment,
Why are you doing this to me? 
I've checked every single one of you, and apparently you've all conspired against me and decided NOT to stock Breyer's mint chocolate chip ice cream. 
Chocolate? Yes. Vanilla? Yes. But no mint chocolate chip! WHY??? I'm freaking out. I would boycott you in protest, but I love you too much.

Dear one-year-old wedding cake, 
You weren't very good, but I suppose you were a rite of passage. 
I wish you had tasted more delicious and less like cardboard. 

Dear Thursday boot camp,
You kicked my butt yesterday. 
That backward guerrilla crawl up that steep hill was the worst thing to ever happen to me. I'd say even worse than a Jillian Michaels video. For serious.  

Oh yes, and by the way...

Dear arms,
You are weak.

And last but not least, 

Dear Jordan,
I'm excited to celebrate our one-year anniversary this weekend. Thank you again for my flowers. I can't stop smelling them. 

 p.s. Dear everyone at work, 
Yes, I have carried these flowers back and forth to work and home every. single. day. this week. I am getting my money's worth, and they smell delicious. Don't judge.


Polishing Your Prose, Part 5: Head Hopping


I'm editing one of my favorite books right now. 

It's written by an author I've worked with three times before, and now we're on book four. The series is Christian historical romance, which is one of my favorite genres.

But even though it's good, there are still things to work on. This is proof that everyone needs editing. One of the main things I am going to be helping her with in book four is not "head hopping" (or, using multiple points of view* incorrectly).

*The phrase point of view from here on out will be shortened to POV.

Before I continue, I need to be clear:

-This is not a post about the different types of POV. 
-This is not a post on how to choose a POV for your story.
-This post is about how to not horribly mess up if you have chosen third person omniscient (ie. multiple characters)

Employing multiple POVs in a story can add depth and conflict when done well. This technique is used by some of today’s best-selling authors, such as Francine Rivers (The Mark of the Lion series), George R. R. Martin (A Game of Thrones), and Stieg Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). There is an art to the technique, however, and many authors fail when it comes to the simplest essential of POV knowledge. 

Here it is in a nutshell: in every scene, you must stay with one point of view--one character. You might be switching throughout the book, but each scene should only be viewed from one character's eyes. 

If you show more than one character's POV in a given scene, you are guilty of head hopping, and your own head should be chopped off.

So what does head hopping look like? 

Every time you change POV, the reader is inserted inside another character's head. The reader is able to see the scene through that character's eyes and hear his or her thoughts.

Here's an example: Stan watched Marsha pour herself a glass of water and thought, Man, she's hot.

This line of narration is from Stan's POV. Stan is the one watching Marsha; we're seeing this through Stan's eyes and hearing his thoughts.

Now, what if the line read like this:
Stan watched Marsha pour herself a glass of water and thought, Man, she's hot.  
I wonder if he notices me, Marsha thought as she peeked at him out of the corner of her eye.

Now you've got both Stan's and Marsha's thoughts at once. This is not only confusing but also takes away from the suspense of the scene. You want readers to attach to your story and your characters, but head hopping doesn't allow this. When the reader isn’t attached, they have less character empathy and less involvement in the story. This leads to the reader not caring what happens to the characters, which leads to the reader putting the book down.

Obviously this is not something that you, as a writer, want.

So here's what you need to do: 
If you choose to use what's called omniscient third person and show multiple characters' POVs, you must limit yourself to one character per scene. (Or chapter, depending on how well your scenes are broken up.)

And if you choose limited third person, then you must stick with only your chosen character in every scene--that means your character should never know anything he or she hasn't personally seen or heard about.

Unsure whether or not you're head hopping?
Look at each individual scene through one character's eyes. Is there anything your character didn't see firsthand? Anything he or she didn't hear firsthand? If so, those parts need to be cut or rewritten.

So that's head hopping in a very small nutshell.
Basically, don't do it, and your manuscript will be better off for it.

[Check out the previous four posts on polishing your prose HERE.]

it's fun, this thing we're doing


our anniversary has arrived.
one year ago today, jordan and i got married.

(on another note, i'm not sure why i'm typing in lowercase. just go with it.)

i'm really not sure what to think about the fact that it's been an entire year since we stood up in front of all our friends and family at our wedding. 

i feel like it's such a huge thing that i don't know what i can do to adequately celebrate.
or, adequately express in words my feelings on the subject.

so instead of a lengthy post detailing our first year of marriage, i'm going to leave you with a few pictures of the flowers jordan had delivered to me at work today.

yes, he caught my not-so-subtle hints. he's a smart man.

dear jordan,
it's fun, this thing we're doing.
love, me
p.s. you are cute

Buyer's Review: Epiphanie Camera Bag


After much debate and a few months of saving, I finally purchased myself a camera bag. 

At first I tried winning one in a blog contest. I entered over ten before I remembered that my lucky winning year was 2010. 
(I won like five contests/drawings that year.)

So I saved up and opted for this baby first before I sprung for a new lens. 
(See how patient I'm being? Dave Ramsey would be proud. No credit cards for this girl!)

It's an Epiphanie red Lola, and I love it. 

I almost bought a Kelly Moore bag, and I don't have a good reason for choosing Epiphanie over Kelly Moore except for the fact that Epiphanie was slightly cheaper. 

Please ignore the fact that this bench has obvious problems. I'm not sure what's going on. 
It's Oklahoma, people.

My bag even came with this cute camera charm. 

This is definitely the most I've ever spent on a bag of any kind, which is the main reason I was nervous to make the purchase. 
But I did need a camera bag.
And so far I am loving it. 
It's big enough to carry my camera as well as all the things I would normally carry in my purse (sunglasses, phone, keys, and even a book). 
The color is exactly was I wanted. 
I was worried the red would be Like, a bright, glossy red. 
It's not.
Plus, it smells like leather. 
Jordan makes fun of me because I randomly keep smelling the bag.
I just tell him that my cheap fake leather purses never actually smell like leather, so this is a new thing for me. 

Now it's back to square one: 
I'm saving up again for a lens so I can fill up my new bag.
The color red makes me happy.

Happy Friday!

10 Things I'm Afraid to Tell You


Earlier this week I read this post, which linked to this post. Apparently there's a blogging thing going around. I missed it, as usual--I'm often behind.

For some reason, the idea of writing a post with some confessions immediately appealed to me. This is partly because I feel dry of interesting blogging material at the moment and partly because of this video I watched yesterday, which has been on my mind and heart ever since.

On this blog I write about all sorts of funny happenings, and I post pretty pictures. 
But my life isn't always funny, and it doesn't look pretty all the time.
{I've probably been the most honest about this here.}

It's Thursday, May 10. 
My 1-year wedding anniversary is in exactly 4 days.
My 26th birthday is in exactly 2 months.

And here are 10:

{these are in no particular order}
1. I hate my skin. It's better now, but I still struggle with it (and seriously envy Jordan's smooth skin). Before my wedding, I went to the dermatologist because I refused to walk down the aisle looking like I had chicken pox. But during my four years of college and the three years since, I refused to let anyone get near my face. I recoiled if anyone tried to touch it, and it became a habit to pull my sweatshirt up over my chin so people couldn't see the acne.

2. I worry about getting fat. I notice myself getting anxious about it if I haven't gone running or done some type of exercise in four or five days. Then I head out for a 4-mile run or do a Jillian Michaels video, and I eat an entire gallon of Breyer's mint chocolate chip ice cream (because it's the BEST), and all is right with the world--at least for the next four days. (I should add that I enjoy working out, so it's not like it's something I have to force myself to do. But when I don't do it, I start feeling frumpy.)

3. I wish I had more money. Jordan and I are extremely blessed. We have much, much more than enough. But I still have to daily fight down that twinge of jealousy when I visit someone who lives in a bigger house than I do or has fancier clothes than me. The past year of consistent tithing has really been wonderful in helping me think about "my" money as not mine at all but God's. I need to care less about "stuff."

4. I love Jesus. This obviously isn't any kind of dark confession, and it's certainly not a bad thing. I know I've talked about church and God on this blog before, but just in case there was any confusion: I love Jesus. Am I the perfect Christian? No. But I love going to church and playing the violin in the worship band. Oh, and I listen to KLove. That's right.

5. My dream is to be a freelance editor. No 9-5. No set schedule. Just me editing books. My secret hope (not-so-secret now, I guess) is that someone will find me via this blog and my monthly writing tips, and that will launch my freelance career. 

6. I used to scoff at cheesy pet names. But here's the truth: I love that Jordan calls me "babe." I remember exactly where we were the first time he ever said it (driving in his truck on the way to a softball game). It gave me goose bumps. That might be when I realized I loved him. (Okay, I totally made that last part up, but it could be true.)

7. I hate how competitive I am. Just once I want to play a game and not get upset if I lose.

8. I wish I were a faster runner.

9. Pinterest stresses me out. So much creativity in one place.

10. And last but not least is this dear blog of mine. I've been writing for almost 2 years now, and I love it. But I'm not going to lie: I wish I had more followers. I know that's silly. Who cares how many followers I have? The people who read this blog want to read it, and do I really want people "following" who don't even read? The obvious answer is no. Still, I can't help but see people with thousands of followers who get hundreds of comments, and I wish that were me. But then I realize that if I did have thousands of followers, that would be a lot of pressure, and I don't know if I'm ready for that yet. I am thankful for this creative outlet and the faithful friends who comment and read everything (you know who you are). (Shout out to Audra, follower/commenter/supporter from the beginning.)

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So that's a few things about me you probably didn't know.
And I've just decided to write a follow-up post titled:

10 Things I Like About Myself/My Life

Because for every thing I wish I had or wish I did better, 
I have five more blessings I could name.
And those are important to recognize too. 
I might make it a link-up (since I know how to do those now).

Stay tuned.
And thanks for reading. 

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{I'm going to tack on a shameless plug for my new weekly photography linkup: 
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
You can link up until tomorrow with an A here. Or come back on Monday with a B!}

Polishing Milk and 7 Questions


For my funny picture, I'll refer you to this post, because I refuse to post this picture twice. It's just too terrible.

1. What is your favorite day of the week and why?
I like Fridays, because the work week is over (or almost), and I have two full days of fun ahead of me. 

2. If you decided to change your name, what would you change it to?
The only thing that comes to mind is Reese, since that's what half my friends call me anyway. It's what I'm going to name one of my children some day.
3. What is one product you use (it can be for anything) that you feel is a miracle worker?
I don't use a lot of products. But I do love Redken shine balance anti-frizz polishing milk. It sounds weird, but it's great for decreasing static in your hair after straightening it.

4. High heels, flats, sneakers, or boots?
Sneakers. But they don't look cute a lot of the time, so then I stick with flats.
5. You see your favorite celebrity (it can be any kid of celebrity- movie star, singer, writer, political leader, blogger) walking down the street, what do you do?
I would probably pretend I didn't see them until they were already past and then keep turning around to look. That's what happened when a friend and I thought we saw Brad Pitt in Kansas City one time. It wasn't him.

6. If you could pick one item to never have to pay for again, what would it be?
Food. Can that count as one item?

7. What was your favorite TV show or movie growing up?
 I was one of those kids who read all the time, so I don't remember specifically watching on particular TV show or movie. But my brother was obsessed with The Goofy Movie for one entire summer. He promised to watch it at least once every single day. I'm pretty sure that didn't happen.

5 Tips for a Well-Rounded Wedding Registry


{photo by Kristen Edwards photography}
May is anniversary month!

First, it's my second blogversary (or blogiversary or something). I wrote my first post on May 24, 2010. That means this month it's been 2 years of blogging, and in that time I got engaged and married, went skydiving, ran three half marathons, bought a fancy DSLR (thus further encouraging my love of all things photography), and shared more than a few ridiculous stories (mostly about my family). just under two weeks it will be our first wedding anniversary!
I could go on about how crazy marriage is and how great it's been and how much it doesn't feel like it's been a year. But that's not going to be interesting for anyone but me--and maybe not even me. 

What I really want to share are some wedding registry tips for those who might be forging into the unfamiliar territory of weddings and engagements at some point in the future.

I've now had one year to reflect on what we acquired through the generosity of family and friends, and there are a few things I'd like to share about this integral part of wedding planning.

#1: DO...register for something you want even if you think it's a long shot

Case in point: my Kitchen Aid mixer. Hello, lover. 

(The very fact that I just used the word lover should tell you how much I fancy my mixer, because I hate that word. Top one of my most hated words.)

Did I think anyone would buy us a $250 mixer? Heck no.
But I put it on the registry with the thought that I might as well, and one day a shiny, red mixer showed up in the mail! The same happened with our Keurig coffee machine.

Seriously, don't be afraid to go big. What have you lost if you put an expensive item on your registry? Nothing except the possibility that you might actually get it.

#2: DO...register for fun items like games and movies and books

Remember, it doesn't all have to be kitchen and bath stuff. We got a few board games and even Wii Sports Resort. We also registered for a few books. People like options, and games and books are a fun alternative to dish towels (especially if it's a guy friend who's buying the gift). 

Sorry Sliders is a fabulous two-person game, by the way. Jordan and I play it all the time. Everyone who likes board games should buy this game immediately.

#3: DO...put a lot of items on your registry

I mean a lot a lot. Seriously, just put anything you think you might even sort of like on there. Why? Well, first because people like options. It's annoying to search a wedding registry and have five items to choose from, and there's absolutely no harm in packing it on. 

And chances are you'll be able to return the item if you don't like it, and then you might even find something you weren't expecting to like that you wouldn't have bought for yourself in the first place.

I also personally believe having a large number of registry items lowers the chances of you receiving something not on the registry (but keep in mind we all know there's no way around ugly, fancy towels).

#4: Did you know Pampered Chef has a wedding registry?

Okay, that's not really a "tip" as much as it is a question, but really. I didn't do this, but I wish I had. I love PC stuff, and registering for specific items would have been fun.

#5: Do...bribe your fiance with the promise of full scanning ability while registering

(This might be the only way you can convince him to come with you. I'm not kidding.)

So those are my tips for completing a well-rounded wedding registry. I've been married almost a year now, so I know what I'm talking about. Trust me.

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[Oh, and stay tuned for a new weekly photography linkup I'm starting next week!]

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